City officials hope to increase Shelton Police Department staffing in the near future through new recruits and outside hiring.
“I’ve been given the green light to hire,” said Police Chief Joel Hurliman.
The Police Department is budgeted for 61 officers, including the chief and three others at the highest ranks of captain or lieutenant, but now has 51 officers.
A few department members recently retired, including longtime veteran Michael Madden, who as captain was the agency’s second highest ranked officer.
“We’ve had a lot of retirements,” said Hurliman, noting many officers who were hired around the same time are becoming eligible to retire.
The department doesn’t just lose officers to retirement. Some members take jobs in other towns because of where they live, the ability to pursue specialized activities in larger law enforcement agencies, and for other reasons.
Madden retired after more than 27 years with the Shelton force to become police chief in Paris, Maine.
Mayor Mark Lauretti said it’s likely that four to six new officers will be hired in Shelton in the next year or so. “We’re going to hire more police, but it’s a time-intensive process,” Lauretti said. “We have to fill some vacancies, that’s for sure.”
Process involves testing and training
Hiring involves setting up a testing process, which Hurliman said now is “a laborious process” that is supposed to be streamlined.
A new test will need to be given since results from the prior one will expire soon. In addition, many people who took the last police exam have moved on, being hired elsewhere or pursuing other careers.
Officers certified in other towns can take the test and apply to join the Shelton Police Department.
There usually are plenty of applicants, although certain minimum standards must be met to be deemed eligible. Background checks are part of the process.
The department also expects to give a sergeant’s test soon. The agency now has seven sergeants, “but we’d like to have more,” Hurliman said.
Finding training academy slots
‘Hiring recruits means securing slots in academy training programs around the state, which can be a challenge.
Academy training can take up to six months and is only offered in a handful of locations in Connecticut. “We have to wait for spaces in the academies,” Hurliman said.
If a recruit finishes the academy, he or she must then go though field training and a probationary officer period.
‘Safest city’ status
Hurliman said while the department has fewer officers than called for in the budget, “we’re getting the job done.”
He said Shelton has been named the fifth safest city in Connecticut and 80th safest city in the United States by NeighborhgoodScout.com, a firm that provides data on communities.
Hurliman said the department has hired a few new officers in each of the past few years, “but we should continue to hire because there will be more retirements coming.”
Shelton does not have a board or commission that oversees the Police Department. Instead, whoever is mayor has that authority.
The mayor also appoints new officers, acting on recommendations made by the police chief.